Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bootleg Thanksgiving

How have I gotten away without talking about Thanksgiving yet?!  It's kind of my favorite holiday.  Well, tied with Christmas for favorite.  See, I love the whole season from Thanksgiving to New Years because there's tons of good food and good cheer.  When the weather gets colder, we remind ourselves to love others and sing songs about playing in the snow.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful day for me.  Think:  Golden brown turkey (baked and/or fried, we have both at our meals), lots of luscious sides, soul-warming desserts, good spirits, good spirits (hard cider anybody?), and the grand-daddy of all parades.  Every year I watch the Macy's parade.  I even tried to watch it in the airport the one year I flew home Thanksgiving morning.

My sister and her little family will be at her mother-in-law's this year, so we had a mini-Thanksgiving last weekend with her father-in-law, Bob, who was also in town.  Um, it was kind of bootleg.  I mean that in the best way possible.  She definitely thought she had a gravy boat, but she didn't.  That's what measuring cups are for, duh!  Also, Rich couldn't find a regular turkey breast at the commissary, so we had a Cajun turkey.  Did I mention it comes with a gravy packet?  Ha!  I will say that I wholly condone the gravy packet if your other option is the powder stuff.  Um, gravy should not start out as a powder.  Just sayin'.

I made these mashed potatoes:

Holla!  We've got creamy mashed potatoes with caramelized leeks.  I've got to say, the leeks really made these potatoes for me.
For the topping: Leeks and butter
Slice the leeks and rinse them in a bowl of water to get rid of any grit.  You only need to slice the white and light green parts.  The dark green leaves can be used in stock for soup!
Melt the butter in a medium pan and add the leeks.  You'll cook them about 20 minutes on medium-low heat.
Um, yes.  Set them aside when they're soft and brown.  Give 'em a little salt and pepper so they don't get lonely.
For the garlic paste: Lots of garlic and milk.  I had a couple of massive cloves of garlic.
Roughly chop your garlic and simmer it with milk in a small saucepan.  It'll take 10-15 minutes for the garlic to become tender.  You don't need a lot of heat for this because we don't want the milk to boil or the garlic to burn.
Mash the garlic with the back of a fork.  I turned it out onto a small plate because it was less awkward than doing it in the saucepan.
For faux-scarpone: cream cheese, sour cream, and whipping cream.  You can skip this if you just want buy mascarpone.
You just mix them together.  Nothing fancy here, folks.  It doesn't even need to be too smooth because it'll melt in the potatoes anyway.
I kind of forgot to take a picture of the potatoes.  But I mean, we're making mashed potatoes.  So obviously you need to peel and boil some potatoes.  Mash them until they're just shy of smooth.  Add the garlic paste and faux-scarpone.  Mix those in, season with salt and pepper, and mash some more.  You can do these as smooth or as lumpy as you like.  They're your potatoes!  If you find the potatoes to be a little dry, add a touch of milk and some butter.  
Transfer the potatoes to your serving dish and top with the leeks!
This was our spread.  
We had macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, turkey and gravy, and dressing.  
The green bean casserole was made better by using fresh green beans, which didn't get as mushy.  I don't know about you, but the difference between dressing and stuffing is whether it's in the turkey or not.  Stuffing implies it was stuffed in the turkey. At any rate, the whole meal was delightful.  The mashed potatoes had a subtle garlicky flavor and a lovely sweetness from the leeks.  These are good, yo!  At first I was all, "I don't know if I would make these for Thanksgiving because I wouldn't necessarily want gravy on them."  Then Rich reminded me that gravy goes on anything.  And he's right.  But don't tell him, he'll get a big head.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Leeks (serves 8)*
Adapted from Epicurious

4 leeks, sliced and rinsed
3 tbs butter
1/2 c milk, plus more to taste
12 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 3/4 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3/4 c mascarpone or faux-scarpone**
Salt and pepper to taste
*I cut the recipe in half because we only had four people.  This is the recipe with its original proportions.
**Faux-scarpone= 3/4 c cream cheese + 3 tbs whipping cream + 1 1/2 tbs sour cream
  • Melt the butter in a medium skillet.  Add leeks and cook until soft and browned, about 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • In the meantime, cover potatoes with water in a large pot and boil until fork tender.  Drain and return potatoes to pot.  Let potatoes stand on the still-hot eye a minute to get rid of any extra water.  Remove from heat and mash until almost smooth.
  • While potatoes boil, bring milk and garlic to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Simmer on low heat until garlic is tender, about 10 minutes.  Mash with a fork to form a paste.
  • Mix mascarpone/faux-scarpone and garlic paste into the potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.  If potatoes are a little dry, add milk and butter.  Transfer to serving dish and top with leeks.  Serve warm.

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